King Charles III portrait vandalized with ‘Wallace and Gromit’ image by animal rights activists

LONDON — The first official portrait of King Charles III since his coronation was defaced by animal rights activists at a public gallery in London on Tuesday, according to pictures released by a protest group.

The Animal Rising group released video showing two of its supporters quickly approaching the painting and placing the head of Wallace, a character from the “Wallace and Gromit” animated franchise, onto the head of the monarch, to gasps of shock from onlookers.

A message placed on the painting said: “No cheese, Gromit. Look at all this cruelty on RSPCA farms!” The message referred to both Wallace’s love of cheese and the alleged animal cruelty at a number of farms certified by the Royal Society for the Protection of Animals, a British charity.

A portrait of King Charles III is defaced by supporters of Animal Rising in London on June 11, 2024.
Animal Rising

The painting, by British artist Jonathan Yeo, pictures Charles in his red Welsh Guards ceremonial military uniform, with a butterfly on his shoulder, against a deep red background.

It was due to be on free public display at the Philip Mould gallery until June 21, with no booking required to see it — but Tuesday’s incident will bring the immediate future of the artwork into question.

The group said that the painting was not damaged. “The posters were affixed using water sprayed onto the bag of them, and are easily removable without causing damage to the painting,” the statement said.

The royal household and the artist have yet to comment.

Animal Rising released a report Sunday that claimed to have uncovered “cruelty on an industrial scale.”

King Charles III and Queen Camilla at the unveiling of artist Jonathan Yeo's portrait.
King Charles III and Queen Camilla at the unveiling of artist Jonathan Yeo’s portrait of the king at Buckingham Palace on May 14.Aaron Chown / AP

“With King Charles being such a big fan of Wallace and Gromit, we couldn’t think of a better way to draw his attention to the horrific scenes on RSPCA Assured farms!” said Daniel Juniper, one of the activists who defaced the painting, in a statement.

Charles visited Aardman Animations studios, which makes the “Wallace and Gromit” movies and shows, in 2001 and told staff he was a “big fan” of the franchise.

Aardman founder Nick Park congratulated the king on his coronation in May last year, with a drawing of the cartoon duo sporting commemorative mugs, noting that the new monarch was an admirer.

The RSPCA and the Philip Mould gallery did not immediately respond to NBC News requests for comment.

The RSPCA told the Times of London on Sunday: “Any concerns about welfare on RSPCA Assured farms are taken extremely seriously and RSPCA Assured will act swiftly to look into these allegations.”

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